Written by Larry Anderson
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 00:00
I just celebrated my 45th birthday, and by all the life expectancy statistics, I passed my mid-life mark ten years ago. According to various reports, the life expectancy of an African-American male is seventy years. However, at thirty five, mortality had not even crossed my mind, even though I knew Psalm 90 speaks about the length of life being seventy years and possibly eighty if we were blessed with the strength.
Mid-life crisis is said to occur between 40 and 60 years of age, where mortality is acknowledged and a thorough assessment of life is taken. Family, career, health, and personal goals are reevaluated and redefined based on your ‘guess-timated’ time remaining. Depression can set in knowing your parents are no longer living or slowly dying. Loneliness can consume you as your children become more independent and less available. Unhealthy results of this can manifest itself in addiction, adultery, and extreme self-inflicted stress, just to name a few perils. In a worldly sort of way this process can and normally is attempted to be overcome with a ‘bucket list’ of stuff to do or stuff to get. However, that’s not where I found myself.
I found myself on my 45th birthday praising God: praising Him for my wife, my children, and my salvation. I’m praising God for my education, my calling, and my career. When you are in the place God has called you to be, you do not need to wish you were somewhere else. Are there things I would like to accomplish prior to the Lord taking me away? Sure, but that does not depress me; it motivates me. Psalm 90 goes on to say in verse 12 "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." This verse reminds us to live on purpose.
I believe at 45 I’m not having a mid-life crisis, but I’m having something I have defined as a missional-life crisis. It is a discovery process designed to define and create a ministry legacy. In other words, I’m assessing how much of my life is centered on things that will last for Christ. Am I making my children disciples? Am I empowering the ministers under me to fulfill their calling? Am I training and teaching my students to think beyond themselves and their individual churches? Are there books I need to write, messages I need to preach, and lessons I need to learn to help me continue to vigorously pursue the mission of God? A missional-life crises does not need corvettes, trophy wives, or physical alterations to make you feel alive. Mid-life is about being half dead; missional life is about being fully alive. There is no greater feeling in the world than surrendering your life to the work of the Lord and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you in those endeavors.
Larry L. Anderson, Jr. is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and the Director of the Urban Programs at Biblical. He is also the pastor of Great Commission Church, previously located in the suburb of Roslyn, PA, but now situated in the West Oak Lane community of Philadelphia to provide a holistic ministry to an urban setting.